Cambridge dementia researchers receive £1.75m charity boost

21 September 2017

Cambridge dementia researchers are set to benefit from over £1.75 million of research funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting 500,000 people in the UK, and the new funding announcement comes on World Alzheimer’s Day, Thursday 21 September.

The Cambridgeshire-based charity has now funded over £16 million of research in Cambridge since the organisation was founded in the city 25 years ago. The £1.75 million of new funding will help improve understanding of dementia and drive progress towards ways to diagnose, treat, and reduce the risk of the condition.

New projects awarded funding include:

  • Nearly £800,000 for researchers investigating whether internet counselling and other web-based support could help people make lifestyle changes to reduce their dementia risk.
  • £100,000 for a study that will measure the magnetic signature of the brain to identify the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • A £419,456 study using state-of-the-art brain scans to find the brain changes that underlie visual hallucinations in dementia with Lewy bodies.
  • Nearly £50,000 for a project that aims to identify early signs of Alzheimer’s through the eye.
  • Over £18,000 for sensitive new equipment to measure protein changes involved in different forms of dementia.
  • Nearly £30,000 for a project testing the idea that a protein involved in dementia could originate in the gut.

Prof Michael Coleman from the University of Cambridge secured a grant of nearly £50,000 for research to understand the links between brain injury and dementia.

Prof Coleman, who ran the Chariots of Fire race in Cambridge last week to raise money for the charity, said:

“From traffic accidents to collision sports, millions of people around the world experience head injuries every year. While these events can result in immediate damage to the brain, evidence suggests that they could also have significant effects in the longer-term.

“Recent research has pointed towards traumatic brain injury as a probable risk factor for dementia in later life. While studies have shed light on higher rates of dementia in people who sustain these injuries, we don’t fully understand how these events set dementia-causing processes in motion. We aim to identify the earliest changes that take place in the brain following a traumatic brain injury, to see if we could stop them from triggering subsequent changes that could lead onto dementia.

“We are very grateful to Alzheimer’s Research UK for this funding and we hope to shed new light on this important link.”

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“Cambridge is a leading centre for dementia research, and the range of projects we are funding in the city reflects the breadth of expertise scientists here are bringing to bear to tackle diseases like Alzheimer’s.

“We are very pleased to be supporting the innovative research of scientists like Prof Coleman and his team. By unravelling an important risk factor for dementia, his research could help shed new light on the condition and identify new opportunities to help people at risk.

“Dementia isn’t a normal part of ageing but the result of physical changes to the brain caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In the past few decades researchers have made enormous progress in tackling conditions like heart disease, cancer and HIV. With sustained investment in research there is no reason why we won’t be able to make similar progress for people living with dementia.

“We don’t receive any Government funding for research, so the progress our scientists here in Cambridge and around the country are making, is only made possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. “